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5 Reasons to Visit Chiapas, Mexico

The relatively small Mexican state of Chiapas in the south of the country, bordering Guatemala, is often overlooked by tourists to Mexico, who only pass through on the way further south. Though the state is only the size of the Republic of Ireland or South Carolina, it is rich in history, diverse landscapes, and has a lot to offer visitors. Here are the top five reasons to visit Chiapas.

See the Mayan Ruins

While most people think of the Yucatan peninsula and Guatemala as having all the best Mayan ruins, Chiapas has its share as well. Most notable is Palenque, a city that was abandoned by the Maya in the 6th century and was left to be consumed by the jungle. While reclamation of the site from the jungle only began at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is believed that as little as 10% of the entire city has yet been uncovered, it is still an extremely impressive place to visit. You can climb many of the pyramids, and the views from the tops are spectacular. Even better, the entry fee is only M$70 (US $3.00).

Be a Beach Bum

The most famous beaches in Mexico are to be found either on the Caribbean coast in Quintana Roo, or much further north on the Pacific in Guerrero or Nayarit; but, the beaches in Chiapas may be an even better place to get away from it all. Lacking the development of the coastal area of much of the rest of Mexico, they offer peaceful escapes from the hectic cities and give you the chance to embrace your inner beach bum. Highlights are at Boca del Cielo, where you are able to join turtle protection patrols at night; Playa del Sol, which is excellent for surfing; and Barra de Zacapulco, a totally undeveloped beach only reachable by boat.

Discover Its Colonial Past

The gem in the crown of Chiapas’ Spanish colonial past is undoubtedly San Cristóbal de las Casas. With its striking yellow cathedral of St. Christopher (for whom the town is named), the central part of the town retains much of its colonial architecture, including red tiled roofs, cobbled streets, and wrought-iron balconies. Nowadays, it’s a very pedestrian-friendly city, with several of its main streets lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés off-limits to cars. It’s also a great place for digital nomads with several cool cafés to work from, as well as a reasonably wide selection of vegan food on offer.

Hang Out at the Waterfalls

Within easy reach of the town of Palenque, there are two quite spectacular waterfalls: Misol-Ha and Aguas Azules. Both can be visited in a half-day trip from the town, with the former offering a shady reprieve from the sun around a deep circular lake into which the waterfall falls; and the latter with striking panoramic views over the multi-layered cascades amid the surrounding jungle. Other noteworthy waterfalls in the state are Las Nubes, which is a good spot for whitewater rafting; El Chorreadero, with an impressive cave network; and El Chiflon, which is known for its radiant turquoise pools.

Drink the Coffee

Mostly arabica, the coffee grown in southern Chiapas is known throughout the country as being of an exceptionally high quality, and Mexicans are rightfully proud of it. It has a rich, earthy, and sometimes nutty flavour, and is incredibly smooth, making for excellent cappuccinos, lattes, or even better espressos. Just beware: once you’ve tried Chiapaneco coffee, you may be spoiled for life!

Have you ever been to Chiapas? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to go? Any suggestions for things to see and do? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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